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Unilever buys multichannel snack subscription brand Graze

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Unilever has bought Graze, and says it plans to expand the healthy snack brand while using its technology and ecommerce expertise across its own business.

Graze, founded in 2008, was an early pioneer of the now popular subscription delivery model. It built its business first by delivering healthy snacks through the doors of UK consumers, and later by adding in-store sales to its ecommerce model through sales via third-party retailers. Today the brand, ranked Top500 in the latest IRUK Top500 research, sells in the US as well as the UK. 

Global brand business Unilever has bought Graze’s holding company for an undisclosed sum to form part of its food and refreshment division and says it can learn from what it does well. 

“Graze is the leading healthy snacking brand in the UK – delivering consumers fabulously tasty snacking options, delivered in beautiful packaging,” said Nitin Paranjpe, president of Unilever’s food and refreshment business. “A truly multichannel brand, Graze offers personalisation, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers.”

That made it an “excellent strategic fit” for the division, he said, adding: “We look forward to working with the Graze team to grow the business, leveraging their tech and ecommerce expertise for our wider portfolio, and offering more consumers the opportunity to snack in a healthier way.”

Anthony Fletcher, chief executive of Graze, said: “This deal marks a transformational moment in Graze’s growth journey. Graze believes that learning from Unilever’s sustainable living plan will become a key driver for the business. Graze has an incredibly exciting future ahead as part of Unilever and we look forward to working closely with the team to keep on inventing new healthy snacks as well as continuing to work to understand the role technology can play in improving the food industry.”

Commenting, Alka Gandhi, head of retail at executive search firm Berwick Partners, said: “This is a savvy lateral move by Unilever and an excellent example of how an established global business can leverage the insight and agility that a smaller, innovative brand offers.

“Beyond Unilever’s strategy to focus on growth across the health, wellbeing and out of home spaces, and its track record in supporting small brands, Unilever can gain valuable learnings from Graze’s leadership when it comes to use of data and insight.
“The fact that Graze grew their business via an ecommerce subscription model before expanding into third-party retail means that the business has a very closely connected and direct path to the consumer. Ultimately, it is this application of data and e-commerce platform which Unilever can leverage, helping it to make more targeted and responsive commercial decisions at speed.
“By building a close and strong partnership based on trust, that ensures transparency and open sharing of information, it will no doubt be a mutually beneficially move. Graze allows Unilever to further bolster their D2C offering and Unilever can provide Graze with a global stage, an advanced distribution network and wider resources.”

Image courtesy of Graze

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